Legislation, strategies and plans for Victoria
Pupangarli Marnmarnepu ‘Owning Our Future’ Aboriginal Self-Determination Reform Strategy 2020-2025
Launched in August 2020, Pupangarli Marnmarnepu ‘Owning Our Future’ Aboriginal Self-Determination Reform Strategy is DELWP’s reform strategy to replace the Munganin Gadhaba Aboriginal Inclusion Plan, that is referred in the 2019 RCS guidelines. The Strategy is a five-year roadmap that enables self-determination and aligns with the whole-of-government commitments set out in the Victorian Aboriginal Affairs Framework (VAAF). The VAAF is the Victorian Government’s overarching framework for working with Aboriginal Victorians, organisations and the wider community to drive action and improve outcomes. The VAAF Self-Determination Reform Framework guides government and agencies to enable action towards Aboriginal self-determination.
Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006
The primary legislation for the protection of Aboriginal cultural heritage in Victoria is the Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006 and Aboriginal Heritage Regulations 2007. The purpose of this Act is to provide for the protection and management of Aboriginal cultural heritage in Victoria. Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation, Taungurung Land and Waters Council, Yorta Yorta Nation Aboriginal Corporation and Barengi Gadjin Land Council have Registered Aboriginal Party (RAP) status under the Aboriginal Heritage Act. At the time of writing, there are two new RAP applications (Barapa Country Aboriginal Corporation and Bangerang Aboriginal Corporation) and one RAP boundary amendment (Dja Dja Wurrung) listed on the Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Council website.
Traditional Owner Settlement Act 2010
Native Title is the recognition in Australian law that Indigenous people continue to hold rights to their lands and waters, which come from their traditional laws and customs. The purpose of the Federal Native Title Act 1994 is to provide a process through which Indigenous Australians can lodge applications seeking a determination of native title. The Traditional Owner Settlement Act 2010 (the TOS Act) provides for an out-of-court settlement of native title and delivery of land justice within Victoria. Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation and more recently the Taungurung Land and Waters Council have signed Recognition and Settlement Agreements (RSAs) with the Victorian government, under the TOS Act, the boundaries of which are consistent with their RAP boundaries on the map above. The RSA provides legal recognition of Dja Dja Wurrung and Taungurung people as Traditional Owners of their Country and acknowledges past injustices. It outlines protocols for ongoing recognition, provides rights to access/use land, and formalises and provides resources for Traditional Owners’ decision-making role over Country. For example, under the RSAs state government agencies have obligations to ensure that DDWCAC and TLaWC are provided with the opportunity to be actively engaged in regional natural resource management strategic planning processes (such as RCS) in the Agreement area.
The Dja Dja Wurrung RSA involved transfer of six parks in the region, to Aboriginal Title (see more detail under Plans for Country below).
The TLaWC RSA involved transfer of nine parks and reserves to Aboriginal title, including the Heathcote-Graytown National Park, which is partly within the north central region.
In 2013, a review recommended that the State and Barenji Gadjin Land Council (BGLC) consider future opportunities to enhance their 2005 Native Title agreements (for land outside the north central region), by entering into an RSA under the TOS Act. Both the state and the BGLC supported the report’s recommendations and have been working to commence negotiations since 2014. In August 2017, the state formally approved entering into negotiations with BGLC towards a Recognition and Settlement Agreement under the TOS Act.
Prior to the TOS Act, the state government entered into a Cooperative Management Agreement with Yorta Yorta in 2004 to facilitate:
- The active and resourced involvement of the Yorta Yorta people in decisions about the management of Designated Areas, including ‘the integration of Yorta Yorta knowledge, internal decision-making processes and perspectives into management planning and works programming.
- The development of mutual recognition and trust between the Yorta Yorta people and the state, and;
- The identification and promotion of employment, training and economic development opportunities for the Yorta Yorta people.
Ghow Swamp in the north central region is one of the three Designated Areas defined in this agreement.
Water for Victoria
Water for Victoria was released in 2016. It is Victoria’s plan for a future with less water as Victoria responds to the impact of climate change and a growing population. Victoria’s Aboriginal Water Policy was announced in Chapter 6: Recognising and managing for Aboriginal values, Support Aboriginal participation in Victorian water planning and management. In response, Traditional Owner groups and in some cases, CMAs, host state funded Aboriginal Water Officers to support greater Traditional Owner involvement in water management. Traditional Owners are engaged to identify cultural values and risks, to inform Seasonal Watering Plans (that outline annual planned water for the environment deliveries) and include opportunities for cultural benefits. Other activities to support this and related programs have included facilitating time on Country for Traditional Owner groups and supporting Traditional Owners to undertake Aboriginal Waterways Assessments (AWAs).
Water and Catchment Legislation Amendment Act 2019
The purpose of this is Act was to make several amendments to both the Water Act 1989 and the Catchment and Land Protection Act 1994 including to support Aboriginal cultural uses of water and underpin opportunities to use water for economic development for Traditional Owners and Aboriginal Victorians, and to support the self-determination of Traditional Owners by providing opportunities that best meet their water management needs.
Water Resource Plans
The Basin Plan required all Murray-Darling Basin states, including Victoria, to prepare water resource plans by June 2019. Traditional Owners were engaged to inform water resource planning and their contributions, including objectives and outcomes are a useful resource for understanding cultural values of water as documented here.
The Victorian Traditional Owner Cultural Fire Strategy
The Victorian Traditional Owner Cultural Fire Strategy supports Traditional Owner rights and interests in reintroducing Cultural Fire to the landscape. It was authored by Victorian Traditional Owners with the support of a partnership between the Federation of Victorian Traditional Owner Corporations, DELWP, Parks Victoria and the CFA. Traditional Owners will lead the implementation of the strategy, with support from DELWP, Parks Victoria and the CFA.
The Victorian Traditional Owner Game Management Strategy
The Victorian Traditional Owner Game Management Strategy sets out how Victorian Government departments and agencies will partner with Traditional Owners to deliver practical actions to build Traditional Owner participation in hunting, land management and conservation. Development of the strategy was led by the Federation of Victorian Traditional Owner
Corporations in close collaboration with Traditional Owners across Victoria and a Project Steering Group which included DJPR, GMA, Parks Victoria and DELWP.
Federation of Victorian Traditional Owner Corporation
Refer also the Federation of Victorian Traditional Owner Corporation Policy webpage to find; strategies they have been involved in developing (including the Traditional Owner Cultural Fire Strategy and Traditional Owner Game Management Strategy, listed above), policy submissions and soon to be released:
- Native Foods and Botanicals Strategy
- Cultural Landscape Strategy
Plans for Country
Some Traditional Owners of the region, have Country Plans. The RCS reflects and supports aspirations of these Country Plans at a high level. The Country Plans should be referred for more detail.
- Dhelhunya Dja Dja Dja Wurrung Country Plan 2014-2034
- Taungurung buk dadbagi, Taungurung Country Plan 2016
- Yorta Yorta Whole-of-Country Plan 2021-2030
- Growing What is Good Country Plan, Voices of the Wotjobaluk Nations, Wotjobaluk, Jaadwa, Jadawadjali, Wergaia and Jupagulk Peoples, October 2017
At the time of writing, BGLC and TLaWC were planning to refresh their Country Plans. A Healthy Country Plan developed by some Barapa Barapa people was reviewed but is not listed here because it is not publicly available. These links will be updated when new/renewed plans are available.
In collaboration with partner organisations the Dhelkunya Dja Land Management Board developed a Joint Management Plan for the Dja Dja Wurrung Parks which include:
- Greater Bendigo National Park
- Hepburn Regional Park
- Kara Kara National Park
- Kooyoora State Park
- Paddys Ranges State Park
- Wehla Nature Conservation Reserve